Ed Sheeran Speaks Out Following Lawsuit Win—”You Just Can’t Copyright a Chord Sequence”

Written by John Mendelsohn

Videos by American Songwriter

Ed Sheeran has spoken out about just winning a court case that saw the singer being sued by Marvin Gaye’s estate. Sheeran was being sued for allegedly copying the cord structure from the Marvin Gaye song “Let’s Get It On” for his hit “Thinking Out Loud.”

In addition to being found not liable in the court case, the “Shape of You” singer has just released a new album, Subtract. He is currently promoting the album and is also performing around the world as part of his +–=÷× (Mathematics) Tour, which was temporarily put on hold while he sorted out the legal situation.

Sheeran recently appeared on SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show, where he performed “Thinking Out Loud,” as well as several covers, including “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain, “My Girl” by The Temptations, and “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” by Rod Stewart. Sheeran also opened up on the show about the court case.

[RELATED: Ed Sheeran Might Make the Leap Into Country Music: “I Love the Culture”]

Sheeran told Stern and co-host Robin Quivers, “There were 101 songs (in the medley), and that was like scratching the surface. Yes, it’s a chord sequence that you hear on successful songs, but if you say that a song in 1973 owns this, then what about all the songs that came before? We found songs from the 1700s that had similar melodic stuff.  No one’s saying that songs shouldn’t be copyrighted, but you just can’t copyright a chord sequence—you just can’t.”

Sheeran added that if he had lost the case, he thinks he may have quit the music industry altogether. Sheeran continued, “I really think I would’ve (quit music) because it just takes the joy out of it to sit down and say you can’t use a G chord to a C chord because someone did it in the ‘60s.”

Sheeran also dished on his newest album, calling it a “bit dark.” He said, “There’s nothing on this album that’s gonna be like banged out at the gym when you’re doing reps or that you’re gonna put on the club when you’re dancing with your mate.” 

Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for MTV

Leave a Reply

Dolly Parton Debuts Smoldering Rock Single, “World On Fire,” at the ACM Awards